Archives for February 2016

Hits and a Miss in Valentine Cooking

Valentine’s day may be for lovers and being a singleton, it is easy to dismiss it as a regular day. However, Valentine’s day is also about love and I have loved ones around me so I try to make the day a little more special. To be precise, I do something special with food.  In the past, I have made popsicles and cooked a meal.

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This year, I planned to prepare breakfast, cook a meat dish,  make a salad and bake a cake.  However,  I had to finish a report so I ended up doing everything in batches. It was a good thing because Valentine’s for us extended until the 15th.

I ‘multi-tasked’  our lunch on the 14th. I was still doing the report and it was already  10 a.m.  I cooked the pork belly in the pressure cooker to soften the meat.  After which, I marinated the meat in a korean barbecue sauce. I cooked the marinated meat in the turbo broiler afterwards. I picked this type of cooking because I do not have to look after what I am cooking.  I just let the timer run and it rings when the food is done.  Voila! Say hello to our Valentine lunch. This was a hit.

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I was able to finish the report on the 14th so by February 15th, I was free! I woke up early to make breakfast.  I planned to make ‘egg on a cloud’. I saw that  Tasty video and it looked easy. Boy, was I wrong! These do not look like the one on the video.

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Yes, you can start laughing. The egg white looked fluffy in this picture but it tasted like paper.

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We tried to analyze what happened. It really looked like they were eggs on the cloud while they were in the oven. However, I left the eggs there when I turned off heat because I left the house to buy bread.  I did not want to leave them outside for fear there might be flies and other insects landing on the eggs. Maybe that caused the egg whites to continue cooking.  It is safe to say that was a fail.

After breakfast, I prepared the salad. Since Waldorf salad is best eaten cold. I made it first so I can chill it in the fridge. We love the Waldorf  salad that a family friend makes and since we have walnuts sent to us by my aunt in Canada, we wanted to try to make Waldorf salad. The Waldorf salad is said to be invented by the maitre’d of Waldorf-Astoria Hotel. It is a simple salad made of apples, grapes, celery with lemon and mayonnaise for the dressing and topped with toasted walnuts. My version used cucumber instead of celery and calamansi instead of lemon. I also added yogurt and cashew nuts.

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For me, it tasted good. For my aunts, they wanted to add cream and sugar. I guess they are used to the salad dressing we often make.

The highlight of day is the caramel cake.  I wanted to bake a cake likes Estrel’s so I found Corinne’s blog. She shared a similar recipe from her aunt.

I love how my chiffon cake turned out. I used to burn my cakes because my old oven did not have temperature control.

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This is what it looked like when I poured the caramel icing.

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The Swiss buttercream frosting held up, too. I just need to practice the consistency of my swirls.

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It is a pretty cake (if you look past the imperfections).

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Beyond the aesthetics, the true measure of good food is the taste.  My aunts liked it. One aunt said that the buttercream is too much to her liking. My cousin also said that a thinner layer of buttercream will do. But I secretly love the buttercream. Real butter (as opposed to margarine) is divine! The buttercream hardened in the fridge when we stored the leftover. When I wanted to eat the cake, what I did was I let the cake rest beside me while I work and eat it when the butter softens.  Yum!

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This is hit.  But… I might not make this cake anytime soon. It took me 6 hours to finish from baking the cake to frosting it! But this will definitely be my go-to cake for special occasions.

By the way, belated happy Valentine’s day! Hope you all had a good one.

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A Roadtrip to Roadtrip

My aunt came home one afternoon from a get-together with friends. She told us they went to a new cafe along the diversion road in the city. She said that the food was good. It was not accessible by public transportation so when my cousins invited me to go with them, I dropped everything. I cannot pass up the opportunity.

The cafe is named Roadtrip. It is a both a carwash and a cafe. So while you wait for your car to be washed, you can dine in their cafe.  The cafe was cozy and breezy with all the open windows.

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I love the stairs.  They are made of old tires that are filled with concrete.

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The cafe is pet-friendly. We brought my cousins’ mini-pinscher  and she felt at home.

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There is also a backyard with ducks. ( I was only able to capture one duck in the photo.)

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This is what we ordered- longsilog (longganisa, fried rice and egg) and bacon cheeseburger.

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This is the bacon cheeseburger upclose. It was delicious.  (Disclosure: I went back with friends. Twice.)

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Since we went to the Roadtrip Cafe early in the afternoon, we went to a roadtrip (literally!). This time… to the beach!

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I sometimes forget that we live near the beach.  One can just rent a cottage here for P50 (~$1).

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My cousins’ dog went for a swim.

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On the way the beach, we crossed the Masao bridge. The bridge crosses the Masao river.

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There are people who make a living from the river.

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We also went to the nearby barangay, Lumbocan, out of curiousity. We found this beautiful fishpond.

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 Oh, we passed by the area where pots of bougainvillea were sold. I love bougainvillea.

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We called it a day since our youngest roadtripper was already tired.

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Have you explored your hometown lately?

Warby Parker: SunCollective

We need to protect our eyes from the harsh sun rays and we can do that in a fashionable way.  Warby Parker released its first sunwear collection for the year with a bunch of familiar frames but with some stylish spin into the design.  Warby Parker retained its classic silhouette but with a new lens shape. You have to see the designs to appreciate its beauty.

This is the Laurel 16 Bellini.

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This is the Downing 16 Lemon.

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Classic mainstays- Haskell, Barkley, Piper-have been updated in new custom color combos, plus fashioned with crystal embeds along their bottom rims.

Vanessa is wearing the Haskell Pearl Horn.

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The Barkley Striped Beach looks good on Armando.

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Vanessa looks gorgeous wearing the Piper Digital Horn.

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Co-founder and co-CEO, Neil Blumenthal says,

“These six frames are some of our bestsellers for a reason—their fit and shape look great on so many people. With this collection, we wanted to inject some freshness into them without compromising their original appeal. Our design team experimented with a handful of new constructions, updating the lens shapes with a few frames and embedding a sliver of crystal in custom acetate with three others.The result is a group of glasses that look as playful and modern as they do classic.”

Sun Collective frames are crafted from premium acetate and start at $95.As always, for every pair sold, a pair is distributed to someone in need. Check out warbyparker.com/sun-collective to view their complete collection.

Make Your Own Mehndi Dye

Mehandi design is a popular form of body art that has deep cultural significance going back for centuries. There is some dispute as to its origins; In Egypt, mummies with Mehndi-like henna designs on the hands and fingernails have been discovered, and in ancient Vedic texts, it’s described as turmeric-based dye that’s used as part of wedding and other religious ceremonies and festivals.

There are kits that contain pre-filled Mehndi cones, but brushes or the type of plastic bottles used for fabric paint are common also. If you want to do it the organic way, here’s a simple recipe for home made Mehndi dye that will give you the basis for a lasting, vibrant design.

INGREDIENTS

To make a home made henna dye, you’ll need:

Henna powder, available online or an an Indian grocery
Lemon juice
Sugar
Essential oil; most use teat tree, lavender or eucalyptus oil (it helps make the stain darker)
Small mixing bowl and spoon, non-metallic for both
Plastic wrap

THE PROCESS

Sift about 1/4 cup of henna powder into a bowl, and then add 1/4 of lemon juice. Make sure to stir it as you add the lemon juice to remove all the lumps and get a nice, smooth paste. Add 1/2 teaspoon each of sugar and essential oil; this should give you a nice, silky paste. The last step is to cover the bowl with plastic wrap and let the mixture ‘mature’ for 24 hours. Temperature can affect the quality of the dye, so place it someplace that’s not too hot or cold.

When you purchase henna powder, make sure that it’s a nice, even shade of greenish-brown; if it’s too far on the brown side, that means that it’s old and won’t stain well, and too green = ‘doctored to look fresher’ or it’s from a less mature plant; extra powder can be stored in a zip-lock bag in the freezer.

Henna dye can be applied to almost any body part, but it’s traditionally used on the hands, feet and fingernails in the cultures where it originates. There are also a variety of simple mehendi designs that are used in Mehndi, each with its own special meaning.. You can find more information about this tradition, as well as templates for designs and what each one means, online in places like Craftsvilla, YouTube and on cultural websites.

Cocomelody: Open Back Wedding Dresses

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I received some good news recently. A good friend who has been single for some time now has a new love.  It might be too soon to think about weddings and marriage but since I have a blog and I do not want to preempt anything, allow me to just write this post without naming names. Hey, I am a single woman and I usually try to live vicariously through friends’ love lives so I get to do this albeit anonymously. I  am also dreamer so let me choose a nice wedding dress for that hypothetical dream wedding for my friend. If the relationship gets stronger, I think they are headed for marriage anyway.

My friend is pretty straightforward. I think she would prefer simple dresses that would accentuate her physique. Besides, if she is going to get married, I  think it is going to be a fun wedding where there would be a lot of singing and dancing so a dress she can wear comfortably while dancing would work best for her.   This Cocomelody ivory dress v-neck dress would be perfect for her.

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The open back design would show off her toned back. Backless wedding dresses are flattering.

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There is also another design I saw that my friend may want as an option. My friend has a romantic bone even if she denies it. She is one of the sweetest friends I have so I have picked this sweet and princess-like cap-sleeved dress with appliques.  It has a simple silhouette with a romantic flair.

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I can imagine her dancing in this open back wedding dress. The details at the back would look divine on her.

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Cocomelody has a collection of beautiful wedding dresses for that special day. Take advantage of their promotional offer below.

Wedding Dresses